“So class, when Queen Anne died, her only surviving son took the throne as Charles III. What was he known as before that?” Mr O’Toole surveyed his first year history class and its raised hands. “Clara?”
The dark skinned Princeps student replied, “Prince George, Duke of Cornwall, because he was never invested as Prince of Wales.”
“Very good. And why wouldn’t this young man of twenty two have taken the throne as King George. Anyone?”
More hands went up and Mr O’Toole selected a fair haired boy from Savernake, “Simon?”
“George sounded like the Hanoverian Elector and they weren’t getting on,” offered Simon.
“Very good, yes,” beamed Mr O’Toole. “Under the provisions of the Bill of Rights of 1689, George, the Elector of Hanover, was heir to Charles III’s throne unless he had children of his own. There was also the general feeling that elements of the Hanoverian court had been overly interested in Prince George’s health, and not in a good way, from the time of death of his older brother, Prince William, in 1700. People liked the House of Stuart and most of them wanted a foreigner on the throne only slightly less than they wanted a Catholic. George was most definitely a British prince and that was what people wanted. He was born in 1692, came to the throne in 1714 and when he died in 1772 at the age of eighty, he had out lasted his mother’s younger brother, James, who might have been considered to have had the better claim to the throne and seen the claims of James’ sons dwindle into irrelevance”. Clara’s hand went up. “Yes Clara?”
“Sir, if people didn’t want a Catholic on the throne, then why did Charles III marry a Catholic princess?”
“Ah yes, the Infanta Francisca Josefa Maria Xaviera of Portugal. Seven years younger than Charles, they were married when she was eighteen in 1717. Queen Francis was something of a compromise candidate. She wasn’t from a pro-Hanoverian faction, and at that time the British considered anywhere in Germany to be pro-Hanoverian, whether they were or not. She wasn’t too close a relative through his Danish connections. She wasn’t French, who had problematic ties to the sons of the deposed James II. She was Catholic, but her family were prepared to agree to her children being raised as Protestants, and she was the niece of Charles II’s widowed queen, Catherine of Braganza.” Mr O’Toole’s mouth twitched into a wry smile. “It also helped that her mother’s family had a reputation for female fertility because Charles III needed an heir.”
Later, between classes, Tobia Fenwick was bailed up by her older sister, Cherie. “Hello, scruff.” Since Tobia had started at the Sir Francis Walsingham Tradecraft School, and found herself in Wolf Pack, that had been her sister’s favoured form of greeting for her. Cherie’s Savernake boyfriend, Johnathon Thoroughgood, hovered nearby. “So, the family says we have to lay off you, scruff, despite what you did to Mum and Dad.”
“Do they?” Tobia was non-committal.
“It doesn’t make what you did right,” Cherie told her, “just because they’re letting you get away with it.”
“Cherie, if you’ve been told to let it go, then perhaps you should do just that. You’re neither the boss of me nor responsible for me, so what’s the problem? I mean, if you’re still upset with me about it, then just don’t talk to me.”
“Someone has to keep you in line!”
“Again, not your job,” retorted Tobia. “So, who’s been pushing your buttons to make you think it ought to be?” She glanced over at Jonathon.
“You weren’t just disrespectful to Mum and Dad, you were disrespectful to teachers-,” began Cherie.
“It’s not disrespectful to do my best against them in a game they chose to play,” interrupted Tobia. “Besides, the likes of Mr Monk are perfectly capable of getting their own back.”
“Except you’re not being punished,” retorted Cherie.
“You’re missing my point,” protested Tobia. “Besides, Mr Monk is good at what he does – would you even know if he was getting back at me?”
“Well put,” said a dry, adult male voice. “I’m glad someone in the student body has confidence in my abilities. Mr Thoroughgood, you and I will have a chat in my office at four thirty this afternoon and all three of you will get to class now.” Mr Monk smiled his coldest smile, “I would not like any of you to be tardy.”
Tobia’s class after History was Basic Spy Craft with Mrs Morrison. A lot of her classmates would rather be in Mr Ramsett’s class where they were doing basic surveillance but Tobia was rather enjoying the frankly crafty aspects of what Mrs Morrison was teaching them. There was a lot of making things from what you had on hand involved, something that Wolf Pack students found useful in their Annex. Recent repairs notwithstanding, it still leaked water and wind in disconcerting ways and places.
There were lots of places you could use spy craft skills in Wolf Annex. It was, for instance, amazing how useful it could be to make things creak or not creak, or to make a room light proof so that no-one could see that it was in use. Being able to make your own pigments for paints and inks was useful too, because that way no-one else knew exactly what you had or to look for signs that you were using it. These things were useful because there were always certain members of the school’s recognised Houses liked taking bullying beyond the parameter generally regarded as ‘just good fun.’ If they got you and you were lucky, it was something matron could fix; if you were luckier, they couldn’t find you; and if you were really lucky you were there in a year or block of years when Wolf Pack worked together.
A year when the cubs didn’t hide in their dens hoping to be missed, but laid traps and snares for their hunters.
A changed pattern of squeaky steps in a staircase needing repair. Some extra warning marks that were there, if you knew to look.
Screams in the night after the crashing and banging. Then silence, unless you were close enough, but no-one was.
In the morning Tarrick Blaque, the oldest student in Wolf Annex and the spokesperson in lieu of resident prefects or house master, admitted, “Yes, Headmaster, we all heard a scream in the night, but when we checked and everyone was accounted for and fine, we assumed it came from outside. After all, no other student had any reason to be in Wolf Annex at that time of night.”
The Headmaster looked at him hard and said, “Blaque, you do realise that Akkerley and Lymebrough are in a critical condition and may not survive?”
Tarrick Blaque looked him straight in the eye and replied, “I know that Annabel Lane, Deb Houseman, and Giles Watt all disappeared from their beds in Wolf Annex in the last two years, and that no-one in authority even blinked an eye. I care as much about Akkerley and Lymebrough as you and the rest of the staff cared about Lane, Houseman and Watt.”
This is now followed by Flowers On A Hat.